Now that I'm home, it's time to reflect upon what I've learned from my Southern California senior housing journey.
I learned a great deal about the "Valley," on the east side of the city of Los Angeles (LA), where my son, daughter-in-law and grandson now live. Mark and family previously lived in West LA, on the side of the beautiful canyons closer to the Pacific. Most people are familiar with the west side of the LA metropolis, picturing the canyon etched with the word "Hollywood."
The Valley is new territory for me, quite unfamiliar, with an urban but dry, desert feel. After exploring the area for a week, I learned that I like the Valley weather, culture and people.
At each senior housing community I visited, I gathered materials, took pics on my cell phone and met with staff and residents. My Gemini personality thrived as I journeyed to each location, made new friends and came closer to identifying my new home.
What Did I Learn From My Journey?
1. Researching online with a website like SeniorHomes.com saves a great deal of time and unnecessary travel by pre-identifying senior housing that meets one's criteria.
2. Personally visiting or sending a trusted representative to tour the pre-identified communities is a must. The ambience, enjoying a meal with residents, exploring apartments and facilities, and experiencing firsthand the friendliness of the staff, shines through on a visit. If family is available, bring them along for input. Ask if overnight stays are available at your top choices. Brochures, websites and counselors are excellent, time-saving methods to begin your search, but visits provide needed information on the quality of life one is seeking.
3. Check out the small stuff. Open the shower door and look inside. Is it spanking clean? Are there safety grab bars? Observe the salad bar. Does everything look fresh and inviting. Ask if you or a server carry your items. Close examination, including multiple visits, may reveal unexpected findings.
4. Ask if the community is accredited by state agencies that monitor the kind of care and services you are seeking. I visited one community recommended by a friend who casually visited a senior residence. Advertised as an independent living facility, the building's structure does not meet the "Americans with Disabilities Act" (ADA) standards. Some doorways are too narrow for wheelchair access. Showers and toilet areas do not have safety bars. The friend who recommended the community was surprised when I pointed out these issues.
Foremost, I learned that I am so looking forward to living closer to my three children and four grandchildren. Senior housing is becoming more and more the choice for my future.
In my last blog, I mentioned that I have a frontrunner senior housing community. Have I built enough suspense to divulge its name? In my next blog, I will evaluate the communities I visited in the Valley, and give the scoop on my first choice. Until the next Joan's Journey, I'd love to hear from you at the SeniorHomes.com blog or on Facebook.
Joan London is a freelance writer who lives in Baltimore, MD with her beautiful Russian Blue rescue cat Mia. London is working hard to determine whether the metropolitan Seattle area, San Francisco Bay Area or Southern California will be the best fit for her senior living relocation. Join the discussion at the SeniorHomes.com blog or email your questions to [email protected].
Read part five of Joan's Journey: And the Winner Is...